News

POV: Google Android Everywhere

Mindshare Point of View

Google has made multiple announcements at its I/O conference that will shape the digital landscape, the biggest of which seems to be the ubiquitous deployment of Android.

Details/Implications

Android, which appears on 80% of today’s smartphones, will now become the operating system used across wearable technology and connected devices of all kinds, including watches and automobiles. Not content with just a billion mobile Android users, Google wants to become the preferred and default operating system for everyone and everything. Its nearest competitor Apple represents around 17% of the smartphone and tablet operating systems, leaving Microsoft in a precarious position. The latest version “L” is available to developers now, with a broader public launch sometime this fall.

Various devices featuring the new Android OS were shared at the conference. Google had already announced “Android Wear”, which was featured on some sexy new connected watches from LG, Motorola, and Samsung. TV is also back on the radar; Google TV was also announced, arguably providing a new synchronized on-demand EPG of the future. Finally, Google also released Android Auto, a phone synching ability and another feature to emerge from their Open Automotive Alliance partnership with Ford, Honda, and others.

The main competition for Android is unsurprisingly Apple. The company recently launched CarPlay, which essentially does the same thing as Android Auto, and everyone is aware of its looming play in wearables. Nevertheless, the Google announcement is profound from several perspectives. First, Google has immense scale with Android. The I/O conference announcements suggest it sees many more places for Android to exist, notably in what most consider the post-mobile battleground: wearable, TV, and cars. Second, Android was the dominate talking point during the conference, bumped up from its usual autumn slot and elevated above the “moonshot” eye candy from previous years; Glass was barely mentioned. Third, there has been a very conscious effort to equip and enable the developer community with the means to create apps and experiences that are polymorphic, effectively shape-shifting based on the device where it is seen. At the same time, Google confirmed that manufacturers will not be able to alter the user interface of the new Android operating systems appearances. The new “Material Design” is a bid to create a consistent user interface across products. Google is clearly striving to balance flexibility and fuel for developers but also consistency in the experience.

Marketers should pay attention for several reasons. First, the new Google OS will enable greater cross-device distribution, synchronization, and adaption whether you are developing an app or exploring advertising options within apps. Second, at some point Google will certainly look to extend its three key revenue sources – search, video, and display advertising – into new devices, whether into wearable technology, in your car, on your TV set, and into your home (via Nest).  Finally, Google will have more consumer data than ever before, providing markets with a rich data set for targeting and messaging purposes.

Summary

Google’s I/O conference announcement marks the end of the second great wave of digital marketing. The industry’s long-mooted mobile tipping point has occurred, and while it continues to expand in many parts of the world, the industry is setting its sights on the third wave, the Internet of Things, with TV, wearable technology, the connected home, and your car up first.